Review: Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party (Nintendo Wii)

Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party
Developer: Ubisoft Paris
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Mini-Games
Release Date: 11/19/2008

TV party tonight!
TV party tonight!
TV party tonight!
TV party tonight!

We’re gonna have a TV party tonight! All right!

We’re gonna have a TV party, all right! Tonight!

We’ve got… nothing better to do, than watch TV and have a couple of brews!

I swear to god, am I the only one who gets Black Flaf in my head whenever I think of this game. Alas, Henry Rollins’ famous sardonic track about why TV is lame is not in this game. Which is a huge disappointment to me, but I can understand why it’s not. Stupid “E” rating.

So here we are with the third Raving Rabbids game, which manages to still have Rayman in both the name and game, even though he’s only in cut scenes. I have to admit Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 was my favorite game of 2008. It lacked the horrible pig collecting, sky diving and racing games of the first one, it was funnier, and I really loved the blend of real world video footage for the shooting games. It was like an acid trip version of Mad Dog McCree. So of course I’ve been paying attention to this game since it was announced, even getting a chance to interview Ubifsof’ts Michael Beadle about the game.

So has Ubisoft made the RRR series strike gold for the third time in a row, or are we finally starting to see a decline in the franchise?

Let’s Review

1. Story/Modes

Although the second RRR game only had a lengthy cut scene at the very beginning of the game to tie the mini games together, TV Party actually features multiple cut scenes between each “day” of play. Here Rayman is being chased by a horde of Rabbids who, thanks to electricity and Marvel Science, are zapped into Rayman’s television and they now have complete control over everything, slowly but surely driving him INSANE.

The game is divided into days, each with their own two hour time slot. For each time slot, you’ll have a choice of channels like Trash TV, Macho Channel and more. There are up to eight channels per time slot and each channel has multiple game choices, albeit only one per time slot. Once you choose which “show” you are going to play, you get a funny little cut scene, a list of controls for that game and you’re ready to go. No, you won’t know what game is up until you click on it, but you can judge what it up by the name. To pass a mini-game you need at least 10,000 points. If you score 15K or higher, you also receive an unlockable Rabbid item for customization in “Pimp My Rabbid” or “PMR World Contest.” Once you pass a game, it is forever locked into that day and time slot, and it will no longer be selectable for any of the other time slots. This means you can’t play “Night of the Living Zombids” 70 times in a row and clear the game. Smart move by Ubisoft. Solo mode is pretty good, although I do wish I could see all the mini games right away like RRR2.

Party Mode allows you to play any of the multiplayer games and you can have up to a whopping eight players here. This is pretty impressive, but note that you won’t have eight at a time. Party mode also unfolds like Solo Mode in terms of how the game progresses, except the winner of the last game chooses the next show for the available time slot. As well, Party Mode offers the ability to sabotage your opponent’s progress. When this comes up, you’ll be warned in advance that you can do this, but this also alerts the other players to be extra paranoid in this game. Fun and cruel all at once.

There are also mini games within the mini games. Some games will offer commercials (For solo mode) or news casts/game shows (for Party Mode). These games are very much like Wario Ware where you you have a split second to do what is required of you. First to complete this task will either get a boost to their rabbid’s stats in the mini game (Solo) or be able to choose the next party game even if they didn’t win the last game (Party).

What else is there?

Well there is training mode, where you can try any of the previous games you’ve already played, although these won’t affect your high score or your ability to unlock anything, so they’re kind of worthless and you might as well play in Solo Mode. You can also submit your high scores via the internet as long as you’re not using Fios because the Wii’s ability to connect using this form of the Internet is craptastic at best. Finally, you can also do the “Pimp My Rabbid World Contest” which is a combination of the Pimp My Rabbid mini game and also the Check Mii Out channel. There will be a new theme every week. Owners of the game make their best rabbid, take a picture of it and submit it through the game. Then you go to the game’s website and vote on the winner. Careful, it doesn’t work very well.

So there’s a lot here in RRR3, but I’m not a fan of the play progression as I preferred World Tour‘s ability to pretty much pick and choose whatever you wanted whenever you wanted. Still, it’s a new format and I did find it original and amusing. I also loved most of the mini games save for the god awful tractor race and its utterly unresponsive controls. Party mode is well done and I like that it’s an outright campaign instead of just playing random mini games. Training Mode is useless and PMR World Conest will be dead in a month like all Wii based online bits. What’s here is interesting and the fact you can choose from up to eight mini-games at a time is double the original RRR, but it’s still a step down from RRR2’s selection ability. It’s still better than most Mini Game collection modes, and the story is enjoyable, but there are some definite snags here.

Story/Modes Rating: Enjoyable

2. Graphics

The game switches often between the normal RRR graphics stylings and a new animated but not quite cell shaded version of the characters. At first I was surprised by the new visuals as Ubisoft had never mentioned this in my conversations with them. I alternated between being pleasantly surprised and a bit put off. It turned out thought that full mini games are played in the normal rabbid style, and most of the cut scenes use the usually claymation like visuals, but some scenes use the cartoon graphics, and all of the mini-games within the mini-games do as well. In the end, I find I rather like it as it’s a new twist and shows Ubisoft isn’t resting on its laurels. The rabbids in both forms are adorable yet creepy, and most importantly hilarious. I am glad the mini games keep the 3-D rabbids as it would be harder to use the 2-D ones in a lot of these.

This is definitely the best looking rabbids game. Character models are noticeably enriched over the last two games, and although we’re missing the Ken Masters costume, there are a ton of generic unlockables to make your own wacky Rabbid. I was really impressed with a lot of the new designs ranging from Zombie Rabbids to Swiss yodelers. Backgrounds too have improved. Although I miss the real world video footage in the shooting games from RRR2, TV Party gives you some backgrounds and camera work that feels like an animated movie instead of a rail shooter.

The game is by no means visually stunning, but it is an improvement over the previous Rabbids games and it’s constantly hilarious. The addition of cartoon Rabbids brings a new level of visual appeal and new ways to show the Rabbids being utterly mad. I’ll be a bit shocked if someone can’t look at this game and not enjoy the graphics, if not laugh from a lot of the visual antics.

Graphics Rating: Very Good

3. Sound

Who doesn’t know the Rabbid’s cray of “BAAAAAH!” by now? Yes, I always thought it was “DAAAAH” as well, but in Training Mode they actually spell it for you. As you might expect the “voice acting” of the game really helps to make it come to life, and also captures the hilarious nature of the game. It’s interesting how nothing can actually be said, yet tone and intention are captured perfect by intonation and wacky facial expressions.

The sound effects in the game are great too. From your gnu grunting whenever you use a speed boost to the sound of wrestling hitting the mat as they dive off the top turnbuckle, the noises don’t just enhance the gameplay, they are there to make you laugh as well.

Then we have the music. There are two music based types of games this time around. The first are dancing games where you’ll be dancing according to a stick figure coach in the upper right hand corner of the screen. These tracks are licensed and a lot of fun, even if the figure is a bit hard to make out the movements off on occasion, and the Wiimote/numchuk connector cord needs to be at least a foot longer. I’m 5’8″ and some of the movements I needed to make made me think I was going to break the cord.

The other music based game returns to the Rock Band parody. Again, I’m a bit put off that Ubisoft had the perfect potential song in “TV Party” by Black Flag and didn’t use it. This year’s theme seems to be “Crack Head Female Pop Singers” as the choices include “You Know I’m No Good” by Amy Winehouse and “Toxic” by Brittany Spears. Okay, they also have “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen, but no one ever accused Freddie Mercury of sanity either. Once again though, you have Rabbids singing the songs instead of the real singers, which is hilarious. The backing tracks and instruments are well done too, and I love how the instruments will play when you hit them rather than the song just playing as it normally would. To test this out, I took the horns from the Winehouse Song and tried playing “Tequila” instead. Success! Of course, my score was awful.

Great job here and audiophiles will either love it, or at least be amused by the nuances.

Sound Rating: Great

4. Control and Gameplay

There is no way I can go into all the mini games here so I just want to touch on it. Most of the games have exceptionally tight controls save for the aforementioned tractor game. Controlls vary from running around shoving people to a side scrolling platformer collecting coins on down to the rail shooters and rhythm games the series is known for. Aside from the one game, I’d say the controls are tighter than ever.

Then there is the balance board. The only reason I’ve kept my balance board is for this game. It’s really great to see games making use of the board, even though Wii Fit was a bit of a letdown to those of us who regularly engage in intensive exercise. You’ll be happy to hear that with a lot of games, the balance board works quite well. For example, there is a Wii Fit parody game where an obese man does calisthenics that you must copy. God help me, but the controls are better on this than on the game it is making fun of. The huge problem with Wii Fit was that is was exceptionally easy to cheat at or do the exercises wrong and potentially strain or pull something. Here though? Things are picture perfect which is both sad and telling.

Oddly enough the game that was most hyped for using the balance board with – the riding an upside down Gnu through a ski slalom plays better without the balance board. Using the wiimote I scored 30,000 points, but with the balance board, I scored only 15K. Now you have to understand I suck at racing games of any kind. Yet I managed to hit twice the score needed for this game using the wiimote. So why was I worse with the balance board? Well, the board seems to think I am in turbo boost the full way. Turbo is only supposed to hit if I lean BACK, but it’s on constantly unless I lean far enough over to touch my toes. Now it could be very well be that since this is a new game and a new way to PLAY a game, I’m just not hitting it right. Still, the controls in this minigame aren’t bad. It’s just a bit harder to steer. I may be worse at this game using my ass, but I can’t deny it’s a lot more fun. So, checks and balances.

Playing TV Party is exceptionally fun, and with 50 mini games of course there is always one or two that doesn’t play that well. I can happily say that RRR3 is the best of the lot in terms of control setup even if I think the games in World Tour were better when taken as a whole.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Great

5. Replayability

With 50 mini games, you’ll have a lot to do in TV Party. Even if you’re playing by yourself, it’ll take you between six and ten hours to clear Solo Mode, depending on how good you are and if you are trying to obtain all the unlockables. Then of course, there is multiplayer mode, which can never get old, and for those of you that are hardcore into Mii design, you’ve always got the “Pimp Your Rabbid” ability.

Once you unlock everything there probably won’t be a lot of reasons to play this by yourself, but in a group setting, you could have just a Wii and TV Party, and you’ll be set for the entire evening.

Replayability Rating: Good

6. Balance

With a plethora of mini-games, it’s hard to give an accurate account of balance. Some games play better than others. Some games are harder than others. I was actually surprised at how much harder it was to hit 15,000 points on some of these games than in their RR2 rendition. The Rock Band parodies are a great example. In RR2, I was able to damn near perfect every song. Here I was struggling to get 15,000 points. Other games, like the rail guns seem a lot easier.

As a whole I’d say the games are all nicely done. There are only a few that will leave you swearing, like Pimp Your Rabbid which seems impossible to get a high score on. The rest are pretty easy to figure out and play, even if you struggle a bit trying to get all the unlockables.

Balance really shines in the multiplayer modes of each mini-game, as here you can see just how much the game improves when you have more than just the CPU as your opponent. Not only does the difficulty increase, but so does the fun. The addition of sabotage was simply genius.

Balance Rating: Good

7. Originality

This is the third Rabbids game. While the first game was highly original and innovative, the second was more of the same, albeit with better overall mini games. With TV party, we see the best use of the balance board yet. If you had told me a third party company like Ubisoft would make better use of a first party peripheral like Nintendo, I’d have laughed in your face. But it is in fact so. Crazy. Sky surfing, gnu riding, doing exercises in Miss Fit and dance moves – this game alone has made me not regret my balance board purchases some six months ago. Even the hilariously stupid product placement of real items like Capri Sun is done perfectly. The cartoons and cut scenes are amongst the most brilliant and creative things I’ve seen in gaming in years, and TV Party really brought back the innovation to the Rabbid series with new graphics, forms of gameplay and wacky new mini games. Rock on.

Originality Rating: Good

8. Addictiveness

The first time I picked up this game I played for two hours straight. By the time I was done, my wrists and shoulders were burning. Maybe I should have played all those rail shooters and rhythm games first, eh?

Like all the Rabbids games, half the fun isn’t just playing the game, it’s watching the stupid little intros, and watching these dorky little creatures beat the crap out of each other for our amusement. It’s a silly game, and the more you play games that make you laugh like this, Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law, or the Strong Bad Adventure games, the more you realize that maybe, just maybe, the funny games are more enjoyable then the ones full of emo angst and spikey haired anime kids saving the world from some ultimate evil. Again.

I was pretty sucked into Raving Rabbids TV Party and if I didn’t have to write this review along with Castlevania Judgment and Valkyria Chronicles, I’d be playing this still.

Addictiveness Rating: Great

9. Appeal Factor

I can’t imagine anyone not having fun with this game. Okay, the uber serious people who sit on the internet and have serious anger issues complaining on comic book message boards that CHARACTER A wasn’t portrayed right and who writes slash fan fic and is surprised when it is mocked. THOSE people probably wouldn’t have fun with Raving Rabbids TV Party, but really, do they count as human?

Even the most jaded grumpypants will enjoy this game. It’s short, funny, innovative, and offers fifty different playable mini games, guaranteeing that at least ONE of them will be to a person’s taste. Now is that worth fifty dollars? Well no. That’s only 2% of the game they’d be enjoying after all. Still, if your sense of humour tends towards both the surreal and outlandish, then this is the game for you. You’ll love every moment of it. If you want something over ten hours long or that is more for a solo player like an RPG or RTS, look elsewhere

Appeal Factor: Great

10. Miscellaneous

Fifty mini games, over two dozen games within games, the best use for the Wii balance board we’ve seen yet, and easily the funniest game released this year. What more can be said about Raving Rabbids TV Party? The Rabbids continue to grow in popularity and insanity with each passing year, and they’ve earned their spot as some of the most memorable and beloved franchise characters in all of gaming. Not bad for a horde of generic creatures that didn’t exist two years ago. By the fall of 2008, the Rabbids have eclipsed poor Rayman in popularity with the casual gaming audience. The only question remains, is whether Rayman 4 will ever come to fruition, or is Rayman will spend the rest of his digital life as the sidekick to the Rabbids. Personally, as long as we keep getting innovative and hilarious Rabbid games, I don’t care. This is a wonderful game in nearly every way. Casual gamers will like the weirdness. Hardcore gamers will like the difficulty of collecting all the unlockables. People with little free time will enjoy the quick nature of each game. People with no social life will love that they can play for hours and still have games they haven’t played. TV Party has something for everyone including those of us who don’t actually watch TV.

Miscellaneous Rating: Great

The Scores
Story: Enjoyable
Graphics: Very Good
Sound: Great
Control and Gameplay: Great
Replayability: Good
Balance: Good
Originality: Good
Addictiveness: Great
Appeal Factor: Great
Miscellaneous: Great

Short Attention Span Summary
Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party is one of the best games I’ve played on the Wii all year. Even if I have little time to spare, I can pop it in my Wii, play two or three mini games and walk away with a smile on my face from the frantic gameplay and the hilarious little rabbids. With the return of a story, some great new mini games and the best use of the balance board so far, I can honestly say the only people who wouldn’t be amused by this game are those without souls. I like it better than the first Rabbids game, but not quite as much as the second. What can I say? World Tour lacked a story mode but it also had the best overall collection of mini-games. Oh TV Party, if only you didn’t have the Tractor Racing.



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5 responses to “Review: Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party (Nintendo Wii)”

  1. Jennifer Avatar

    Excellent review. I love the mindlessness of this game, and yet… it’s still oddly challenging in places. I would love to see a complete soundtrack list of all the licensed songs.

    1. Alex Lucard Avatar

      Jennifer – you’re a woman after my own heart!

  2. […] of fun. Dressing up is not innately boring. For example, the mini-game “Pimp My Rabbid” in Raving Rabbids TV Party is ridiculously entertaining. It contains fewer outfits and less customization, but manages to be […]

  3. […] second game in the series was a blast as well and the third game made excellent use of the Wii’s new balance board even though neither Black Flag nor Henry […]

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